Karnataka elections: Amit Shah says Congress behaving like it did during Emergency

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Bengaluru: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national president Amit Shah on Thursday accused the Congress government in Karnataka of orchestrating statewide shutdowns to coincide with his visit and an upcoming one by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 4 February. Addressing the Karnataka BJP’s “parivartana rally” in Mysuru, about 120km from Bengaluru, Shah said the ruling Congress party was behaving like it did during the Emergency. “Congress has till date not forgotten its culture of Emergency,” he said.

Shah said he had come to Karnataka to challenge chief minister Siddaramaiah, who he said could apply all his strength but still would not be able to stop BJP from coming to power in assembly elections due this year.

Shah claimed the government had stopped all transport services, and put many hurdles to impede the BJP rally. Pro-Kannada organizations observed a bandh on Thursday and have scheduled another on 4 February over the Mahadayi (also known as Mandovi) river water dispute. Earlier this week, BJP accused the Congress of trying to use the Mahadayi issue to disrupt the visits of Shah and Modi.

Heading into the elections, BJP has stepped up its attacks on the Siddaramaiah government saying it is raking up issues to divert attention from alleged corruption, lack of governance, misappropriation of funds, appeasement and deteriorating law and order.

After a disastrous five-year rule from 2008-13, BJP was routed by the Congress in the previous elections and reduced to third place. Former chief minister Yeddyurappa, who had left the BJP in 2012 and later returned to its fold in 2015, has been trying to bring back the saffron party into power in the state—considered a gateway to other southern states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, where the party has little or no representation at all.

Yeddyurappa, who has been touring the state since 2 November, will make his final stop in Bengaluru, after covering all 224 assembly constituencies on 4 February. Modi is expected to be part of the 4 February rally.

On Wednesday, Yeddyurappa said BJP will also call for bandhs in districts that Congress president Rahul Gandhi is set to visit if he does not clarify his position on Mahadayi.

Siddaramaiah, who has so far refrained from commenting on renewed demands for a separate religion status for Lingayats (believed to be the single largest community in the state), on Thursday wrote to Modi requesting that the centre confer Bharat Ratna on Sree Sree Sree Shivakumara Swamiji—the religious head of the Lingayats. The move is likely to please Lingayats, who have traditionally voted for BJP and Yeddyurappa, one of the tallest leaders of the community.livemint